November 12th, 2009 – by: domnicella
Yesterday the Meatsticks and I road-tripped it down to Leshan
for the day. We snagged some tasty noodles for breakfast down the street from the hostel, and then caught a cramped bumpy city bus to a cramped bumpy long distance bus. We then hopped in two cabs to take us from the bus station to the Giant Buddha, me in the second cab and pointing to the first and saying "follow him." Yeah well, apparently these people take those kind of instructions to heart. It was EXACTLY like that crazy chase scene in the movies involving speeding cabs and driving through oncoming traffic and narrowly missing pedestrians and cyclists and you name it. (You think I'm exaggerating. I have four witnesses who were screaming "JESUS CHRIST!" and hanging on to the oh shit bars for dear life.
For those of you wondering what an "oh shit bar" is, it's the bar on the roof of a car, commonly used to hang dry cleaning. So named for their handy use in "oh shit!" situations.) Street lights mean nothing to these people, but that's standard protocol for any and all drivers and vehicles in China. The way the Chinese drive they make the Italians look downright law-abiding and sluggish. (No really, Pops. The Romans have NOTHING on the Chinese with their death wishes.)
The Giant Buddha is exactly that: a GIANT Buddha carved into a cliff over a river. It's pretty big (his fingernails are eight meters in length, i.e. longer than a human), and kinda cool, but after a few minutes you go "That's it? I just took how many buses and endured how many hours (well over three each way, for those of you keeping score) of honking and screaming and spitting, confined and suffocating and clawing at my face, and all you've got is this buddha? And you charged me HOW MUCH for admission and round-trip bus fare?? Can someone please throw in a temple or two, or perhaps some nice grounds to make this worthwhile?" And then you realize you're in China and remember this is the land of supreme over-hype and grumble a bit and get on with your life.
To be fair, Leshan was a pleasant change of pace from Chengdu
, with the tree-lined streets and fruit vendors on every other corner. It would have been nice to hang out there for a few days. (For those of you wondering why I didn't, as I planned to, please see a one John Langdon for details. His side of the story involves far fewer expletives, I'm sure.)
From the buddha we loaded right back onto the bus for more back-breaking, ear-splitting excitement, and were dropped off at a completely different bus station on the completely opposite side of town. Enter one very expensive cab ride that essentially cost the same as our fare to Leshan. Not my fav. We then feasted on a massive hot pot, and loaded it up with everything imaginable: beef (for the boys), cabbage, lotus root, potatoes, various mushrooms, Chinese greens, tomatoes, a shit ton of spicy chilies, seven orders of noodles -- the works.
View of Leshan
It was DELICIOUS. The boys spiced theirs silly, giving me sideways glances for refraining from downing an entire bottle of chili paste on my own. Needless to say my little Meatsticks are a bit out of commission today. Seems their tummies are drawing the line at one bottle of chili paste per boy. I warned them I wouldn't be standing at the bathroom door distributing Imodium and ice packs. But did they listen? Poor little Meatsticks.